La Canada baccalaureate

Area graduates participated in the interfaith baccalaureate service at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada Flintridge on Tuesday, June 15, 2010. Parents and friend filled most of the church on Foothill Boulevard. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / June 14, 2010)

While most high school seniors' heads are spinning with graduation plans and the onset of summer, one group of grads-to-be are taking a moment to reflect on the profound spiritual shift that will soon occur and how their faith will play a role in what comes next.

Seniors from several area churches will convene Tuesday night at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church to participate in the eighth annual Interfaith Baccalaureate, sponsored by the La Cañada Flintridge Ecumenical Ministerial Assn.

Some will share scriptures that have guided or inspired them on their journeys. Others will give testimonials on how faith has shaped their lives so far, and how they hope to carry its lessons forward into adulthood.

"These young people are not just graduating, they're leaving home and they're taking with them all that they've learned," says Christie Frandsen, chair of the baccalaureate committee. "They're faced with a really challenging world, and these kids see their faith as one of the most powerful resources they have to face that world."

Michelle Musso, a 17-year-old La Cañada High School senior and a member of St. Bede, will talk about how Jesus touched her high school career and the growth process she underwent as her beliefs deepened.

The end of her senior year, as she looks forward to UCLA in the fall, seemed a good time to think about how her faith helped her get through high school.

"It's definitely a big time of change," she said, recalling the end of softball and the marching band. "For me, faith was a big part of high school, because it was something to fall back on."

That's something that resonates with 17-year-old Laurel Johnson, an LCHS student who attends La Cañada's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She'll read a passage from the Book of Mormon at Tuesday's service.

"It's great to know where we came from. And it's a great time to hear about the faiths of all your fellow students," says Johnson, who plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah. "It really is a powerful meeting."

Frandsen said an important aspect of the event is the celebration of many different religious viewpoints within the La Cañada community.

Traditionally a Christian-focused event, the service has expanded in recent years to include students of Jewish and Muslim faiths, as well as those who attend schools in neighboring cities.

"We've made a really big effort to make sure this was an interfaith event. We want to make sure all congregations are represented," Frandsen said.

The interfaith aspect is especially important to Madeleine Cameron, 17, a Pasadena senior who attends the city's Peace and Justice Academy. Next year, the school will move to an interfaith model. While Cameron is sad to miss the transition, she's glad she'll be able to be a part of Tuesday's service.

"It will be really cool to celebrate the high school part of my faith journey," said Cameron, who will attend Bethel University in Minnesota. "I would love to meet some other students in the interfaith community and say, 'How was it for you?'"

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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